Paris Travel Guide
Just as you are reading this post, you are probably looking for a Paris Travel Guide, or an itinerary that you can follow, which tells you what to do, see and eat.
Don’t want to go on a wild goose chase?
This article is going to help you out!
Don’t forget to check out our post on travelling resources to help in your planning too!
Paris is the city of love, and millions of people visit it each year, all with varying reasons.
Some people are there to see the Gothic style as it is the birthplace, and some are there for the Michelin star restaurants, while some are there simply to find romance.
Whatever your reason is, Paris should be a place on your radar, as it is one of the most beautiful cities on earth.
The architecture is rich in grandeur, and everything in Paris just looks majestic.
Walking along its cobbled streets, you can soak in the atmosphere and admire the historical buildings, giving you a sense of what life used to be under the aristocrats.
It almost feels like walking through a living breathing museum! Despite the countless tourists roaming her belly, there’s a charm to the city not imitable elsewhere.
You could indulge in all inclusive tours, but it’s equally satisfying taking slow long random walks through its streets.
When is the best time to visit Paris?
So when is the best time to visit Paris?
For those who can only afford to take vacations in summer time, from June to September, you will be facing throngs of tourists competing for space with you.
While the temperature will still be comfortable, it would be more worth your time to explore visiting in the shoulder season of April-May, and end September-November.
Although it is the off season, please remember Paris is one of the world’s most visited destinations, and visitor numbers will still be high during this time. However, this is the period with the best cool weather and it is still possible to get some good bargains.
In the off season during January to March, expect that the scenery reflects gloom, but the bright spot here is you can plan your visits around the plentiful beautiful museums and indoor activities.
This period is wet and the sun hides away most of the time.
Make sure to check out the weather forecast before making your plans.
Related: Nice Travel Guide
Some Facts about Paris
- Population: 2.14 million
- 6100 rues, or streets, in Paris alone
- There is only 1 STOP sign in Paris, in the 16th arrondissement
- DO NOT SWIM in the Seine River, it is highly polluted!
- Eiffel Tower is the highest point of the city at 324 metres
Getting to Paris France
Located in the North Central part of France, Paris is highly accessible from all parts of the world. Considering that is it the second most visited capital of Europe, that is unsurprising at all.
Check out flights on Momondo before going. This is a great website to compare flights and set alerts to keep track of price fluctuations.
Charles de Gaulle is Paris’ main airport, and in fact, with over 65 million passing by each year, one of the busiest airports in the world. It serves mostly international flights with its three terminals.
Orly, located to the south of Paris, was formerly the city’s international airport until the construction of Charles de Gaulle. With two terminals, it remains a busy hub for domestic traffic and some international flights.
It is easy for many Europeans to get to Paris by train, with most services pulling into 7 different train stations well spread around the city.
Prices are reasonable and its a great option for those who don’t like flying or those who wish to enjoy a scenic ride.
Consider using Seat61 to book your tickets.
Tip: If you are travelling in Europe and wish to get to Paris by train, consider taking it from Zurich as it offers some of the best views you can ask for
Travelling to Paris is relatively cheap, but it takes a toll on your back and bum.
Bus rides from neighbouring cities often take long hours and may not be the most pleasant choice to take.
If you have to take the bus, consider using Omio to book your tickets.
Driving to Paris will be a different story altogether, since you can get a chance to stop over at the many small towns and villages that lie beyond the boundaries of Paris.
However, we would advise that you return your car before getting into Paris itself, since the traffic is often hectic and the drivers can be very aggressive.
If you are not used to that, it is going to give you a nightmare!
And seriously, parking will become the horror story you tell when you get back home.
Related: One Day in Monaco
Getting around Paris
Paris is a pretty compact city, and it is best to make full use of its well laid out and connected public transport system.
Particularly, we feel that using the metro combined with walking will offer the best experience in Paris.
Walking is simply the best way to get acquainted with the romance of Paris.
Not forgetting how much calories you can burn and money you can put into the wine kitty!
The metro is an extremely convenient way to explore the city.
Although the metro map looks intimidating, the truth is that it is quite simple to navigate your way around.
Best part? With 380 stations, you’re never far away from one.
Every station has a self service kiosk to purchase train tickets, and different languages are available for selection.
On our first trip there, we requested for help from the staff manning the station office.
One tip for you: buy the carnet, which is a pack of ten tickets for €14.90, compared to €1.90 for a single ticket.
Make sure to download the RATP Metro Map and Routes app ahead of time as it provides you with information on the station, routes, and travel times.
We love this app as it was crucial in offering us info about how long it takes from one stop to another.
To get to the city center from Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG), here are a few options you may consider.
Trains are an important part of transportation in Paris and France itself. In this instance, you will be looking for the RER B train line to get yourself into Paris. (Other types of trains will be the TGV which plies inter-city routes, and the metro, which is for commuting within the city)
The RER is a rail network that connects the suburbs to the city center, and there are 5 lines on it as identified by the alphabet, A, B, C, D and E.
There are two train stations situated in CDG, one at Terminal 3, while the other is in Terminal 2 (between 2E and 2F), so there is a lot of convenience for travellers looking to take a train.
If you land in Terminal 1, take a free shuttle bus called CDGVAL to the Terminal 3 station.
Trains start early, at 4.56am while the last train out of CDG is at 11.56pm.
Prepare beforehand: Price of a ticket is €10.30 and takes a leisurely 30-40 minutes of travel time, depending on which stop you get off.
The main station in the city center will be the Gare du Nord, which should be a travel spot itself for its historical significance.
Or you can alight at the next station, Châtelet Les Halles which is a massive interchange station connecting 4 metro lines and 3 RER lines!
Make sure to bring exact change if you wish to use the automated machines to purchase your tickets. The ticket office does not open until after 6am.
This is not an option that we will suggest since the timing can be unpredictable due to changing traffic conditions.
They can all be found at the arrivals hall. Since Roissybus and Le Bus Direct are private charter companies, expect their tickets to cost much more, at €12.50 and €18 respectively. The city bus costs €6.
We suppose the only upside here would be the slightly more comfortable seats and larger storage compartments for luggage, but it does take a minimum of 45 minutes to get to the city, sometimes much more as traffic jams are not uncommon.
Make sure to take taxis that are waiting outside of the arrival halls in the correct queue. They will have a yellow sign on top of their vehicle.
There has been instances where people posing as taxi drivers rob tourists of their luggage, so beware!
Tip: You should not be paying more than €50 or €55, depending on which side of the bank of the Seine River you are heading to.
On the right? That will be €50. Expect to add some surcharge if you are arriving at ungodly hours.
During our stay in Paris, we have used both of these apps and found them to be reliable and fairly priced.
In fact, we scored promo codes on Kapten as first time users and had 6 rides getting $6 off!
You will get a pickup location automatically when you use the app, making it a breeze.
Budget around €40-€50 and 35-50 minutes to reach the city center.
Wifi in Paris
Good news everyone!
You can easily get access to FREE WiFi all over Paris!
Simply look out for the Paris WiFi sign that’s plastered across parks, gardens, libraries and more.
Connect to the network Paris_Wi-Fi_number and sign up to get on the internet highway.
Each of these connections will last 2 hours.
How generous is that!
If you are out of the coverage, other locations to look will be at McDonald’s, Starbucks and most hotel lobbies.
The other option will be to get a 4G smartphone rental that allows you to make unlimited calls as well as turn it into a mobile router to connect multiple devices.
The costs is pretty low at a few bucks a day and you can easily collect it at the airport or in the city centre.
Best food to eat in Paris
French cuisine is well know around the world, and in fact, the French company Michelin is an industry leader in handing out awards for some of the best foods globally.
Tells you something about how serious they are about what they eat?
One of the best experiences you can have in Paris is seeking out the various fare on offer, be it traditional or modern, French or otherwise.
You should also check out our post about the best restaurants in Paris under €20 that we teamed up with other travel experts.
Here’s our thoughts on what you should not miss.
Somehow, this unassuming sandwich has made it into our list, as we enjoy its simplicity and tasty properties.
But honestly, we are more tickled by the fact that its name actually means ‘Mister Crunch’ in English, and its variation Croque Madame, aka Madam Crunch.
It’s a ham and cheese sandwich with a real cute name.
Baguette and French Cheese
At almost any French restaurant you visit, it is most likely you will be served with a plate of baguette to start with.
Sure, you can tell them you don’t need it, but that would be impolite isn’t it?
Pair this long French bread with some French cheese like Camembert, Brie and Chaource.
What can possibly go wrong with a thick piece of steak served with a mountain of fries?
One of the most common items you will find in menus from end to end, it is likely you can try out different versions in Paris and taste some of the unique sauces that comes with it.
Don’t forget the red wine!
How can you not try out this dessert that has been popular in France for over a few hundred years?
Especially in recent times when it seems to be all over dessert shops and online recipes.
A tiny piece of sweet goodness, it does come in multiple flavours to satisfy the pickiest of taste buds
French wine and Champagne
Alright, we confess.
This is not food, but coming to France means soaking in the culture and it’s produce.
Guess what, France is one of the largest producers of wine in the world and we must say, pretty good at it too.
Make sure to try out as many varieties as possible and not just those names you know.
Cap it off with a glass of Champagne, we say.
Best places to hang out and have a drink in Paris
One of the striking images we had of Paris was actually of a sidewalk cafe, right off the street and filled with people just sipping on their espressos or munching their patisseries.
At night, they turn into a meeting spot for friends to unwind and chill out and get their wine fix.
With that said, you are not going to have a lack of options when it comes to the best places to hang out and have a drink in Paris.
We will touch on a few of them here.
One of the most crowded places for after hours happy hour, this place has a local and authentic vibe surrounding it.
Although it is a popular spot, the service is fast, prompt and polite.
Since you are on holiday, why not pop by before the crowd comes along for happy hour first?
142 Rue Saint-Denis, 75002 Paris, France
Au Bon Coin
While not exactly a bar, this restaurant serves up delicious Southern France dishes and offers a huge variety of wine and beer for you to hang out post dinner.
Totally unpretentious and warm, this establishment should not remain as a secret any longer.
49 Rue des Cloys, 75018 Paris, France
Looking for somewhere that serves cheap beer?
Onze Bar has happy hour all the way till 8.30pm, and with beers going for $4, it is easy to see why the bar gets packed pretty quickly.
Plus point, Onze Bar is located in a charming bohemian neighbourhood near to Couronnes Metro Station.
83 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 75011 Paris, France
Located in the hip and laid back Oberkampf area, this is an institution that you will not miss if you are walking around.
Get this, the place is in business for over 100 years, speaks a lot about its attractiveness to its customers.
Come here for a delicious meal and people watch while you sip wine.
This area is also perfect if you wish to bar hop.
109 Rue Oberkampf, 75011 Paris, France
For those of you looking for a place with history and colonial atmosphere, as well as luxury pampering, then Bar Hemmingway is the right place to be.
A really classy bar, albeit a tad too tiny, here is where you can imagine how it must have been when Hemmingway sat with Charles Ritz to drink.
Be warned, the prices here are sky high.
15 Place Vendôme, 75001 Paris, France
Best Nature Places in Paris
Are you like us, always on the lookout for spots to escape from the city?
Although Paris is famous for being a city with its rich history and gothic architecture, a little known secret is the easy access to nature.
Read on as we uncover a few of the best spots besides the impeccable Luxemborg Gardens in the heart of Paris.
Parc de La Villette
A huge urban park that fits near the fringe of Paris city, this park offers wide open spaces and frequently hosts cultural activities including outdoor music concerts, art exhibitions and film festivals.
Although this is not in the usual tourist path, it makes for a great day out to relax and frolic in the sun on a good day.
Bringing a picnic basket is a must and remember to stock it up with baguette, cheese and fine wine.
There are also themed gardens and museums around and it is kids friendly due to the numerous playgrounds set up.
Your kids can get to take part in some science related exhibits and learn cool new stuff.
Jardin des Plantes
Located not far from the Latin Quarter is this vast park that contains a menagerie!
Kids and adults alike will be able to see some of the animals that are kept here, and move on to the well stocked National Museum of Natural History.
There are wide opens spaces and a good mix of park benches and shade where you can relax and read a book in peace.
The plant variety on display is mighty impressive and there so many features such as the alpine garden, maze walk and even a waterfall and cave!
Bois de Vincennes
Right out of the city limits of Paris, this huge expanse of greenery is perfect for looking for a quiet day out in the park.
There are routes for long walks over rising and falling terrain, as well as ponds where you can feed the swans and fishes and just be with nature.
You can even rent a small boat to explore the pond if you wish to.
Not only does the park allows us some reprieve from the busy city, you can also check out museums and medieval architecture within itself.
And guess what, an amusement park is contained here and it is a great activity for you and your family, definitely fun day out for the kids.
Other useful Tips
Paris City Pass
Are you intending to spend a few days touring the popular sights in Paris?
If that is your plan, you should seriously consider getting the Paris City Pass.
Not only does it save you some Euros, you get access to things like skip the queue and priority entries at selected locations.
This pass also includes free usage of all public transport including buses, metro, RER trains and the Montmartre Funicular!
On top of that, you get to ride the Hop on Hop off bus for 1 full day.
We suppose you are falling off your chair by all the value you are getting from the pass, but wait!
Our favourite part is that you can get the Paris Pass here at a cheaper rate!
Hop On Hop Off Bus
So maybe the Paris Pass is slightly out of your budget?
Or you do not have the time to see so many attractions?
Fret not, as the Hop On Hop Off bus service is a great way to see the main sights.
You can choose, as the name says, to hop on or off anytime and lets you visit all your favourite spots at your own flexible timing.
Plus, the price is reasonable with options to add on more activities.
Free Walking Tours
One of the best experiences that you can have in Paris is to explore it on foot.
Pick out a pair of comfy shoes and you’re set to go.
With that, consider signing up for a free walking tour.
Although the tour itself is free, please leave a tip for their hard work.
That’s how they make their living!
Tip: if you prefer to walk on your own, but not sure how, check out the itineraries provided by walking tour operators and copy them!
Common scams in Paris
Paris is one of the most popular destinations in the world, and with it comes opportunists who wants a piece of your wallet.
That said, with a bit of common sense and preparation, you and your fellow travellers will be able to avoid these nasty guys.
Here’s a look at their usual modus operandi:
Friendship band/bracelet bandits
Group of guys most commonly found at the steps to Sacre Coeur.
They will slap a band or bracelet on your wrist, and conveniently forget to tell you the price until it’s too late.
Once it’s fastened onto your hands, you will have to pay whatever price they asked for, as you will suddenly realize they have a big group.
Walk past them quickly without making eye contact but remain aware of your surroundings.
If they initiate conversation, just pick up the pace and say no thanks.
Best to keep your hands in your pockets too.
Usually operating in groups, these nasties ply their trade in the subway, where it’s extremely crowded during peak hours.
Their methods are varied and hard to catch.
Whichever way they choose, the key to their success will be to divert your attention.
In close quarters, they can easily slip their hands into your pockets, and slice open your backpacks. Make sure you don’t stand close to the doors as they will attempt a snatch and run before the door closes.
At the turnstiles, their trick is to stick close to you and just when you pass through the gantry, they snatch your valuables. You will not be able to turn back, while the thief makes his escape.
To prevent this, don’t put anything in your pockets, and sling your bag to the front.
We can go on and on about this disease, but we are going to stop at two. Frankly, this is a disease that is present all across the world. But it would just tarnish your expectations about Paris, isn’t it?
As we said, keep your wits about you, don’t paint yourself into a corner by flaunting your assets, and not only will you come through unscathed, you will fall in love with Paris.
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